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Alysee Shelton, Forum News Service, Published November 03 2013

Residents of Carlton, Thomson consider merger

DULUTH, Minn. – Thomson, Minn., faced a dangerous flood last year. Every resident in Thomson had to evacuate. Some were even airlifted out of the city.

Houses, cars and streets were damaged by floodwaters. Specific areas where the flood hit are still pretty noticeable. A couple of homes are boarded up and a few muddy roadways remain ruined.

Even though there was flooding in neighboring Carlton, Thomson residents were welcome to stay in Carlton. City Hall provided resources and staffing to all the flood victims.

“My husband and I were airlifted out of our house. We had no time to grab clothes or any other valuables. It was nice that Carlton was able to work with Thomson residents and get us to safety,” Thomson resident Linda Johnson said.

This is one of the many reasons the two cities may merge into one if voters approve a ballot measure Tuesday. They would share emergency services and the Highway 210 bridge. The new city would be called Carlton, but Thomson would not lose its identity.

“We are going to keep Thomson’s history. It will essentially be a neighborhood in the city. There will still be signs pertaining to Thomson. People can still say they are from there,” said Andy Hubley, ARDC Regional Planning Director.

“This is a good example of the community and regional leaders working together. This is a good model other small cities can follow. Everyone has been cooperative and the public support has been great,” said Hubley, a member of a committee formed more than a year ago to plan the merger of both communities.

If a majority of voters in Thomson and Carlton vote “no,” then the merger will not happen. The ballots will be counted separately for each city.

Many Carlton residents seem to be in favor of the merger vote.

“We have a lot to offer Thomson residents; it’ll be a good fit for them. We could merge city councils and have an election for mayor. Everything will mesh well together,” said Carlton City Clerk Treasurer Tracey Hartung.

Emergency medical technician Angela Lime also expects a good outcome.

“Everyone here at the EMT is for the merge. I have yet to meet a person against it,” said Lime.

In Carlton, there is a fire station, Carlton Meat and Grocery, a Wells Fargo and a couple of other businesses right next to each other. That’s basically the entire town. Once you pass these building, the tour is pretty much over.

Carlton has 864 residents and Thomson has 159 residents.

Most Thomson residents are also in favor of the merge, as people in both communities call it.

“I don’t have a problem with it. We will be a larger community and there will be a lot more opportunity. Plus Carlton residents are very friendly and warm,” said Johnson, who with her husband, Alan, own Alan Johnson Photography.

Their photography studio is the only business in Thomson. If you keep going another mile from their business, you will reach City Hall, a single-floor brown-colored building that could easily be mistaken for a one-room schoolhouse.

While driving by City Hall you might see the town’s mayor waving to people while riding around on his miniature motorized cart, with a snow shovel attachment in the front.